Kia ora whanau,
I hope you are all staying warm today – as I write snow has settled on the hills around the harbour and the Episcopal toes were feeling a bit frostbitten on the walk back from spiritual direction this morning.
Although the weather was grey at Ministry Conference the warmth of having our leadership families together was palpable. The theme for the conference, and going forward over the coming year, is ‘Our Transforming God’, and it was brilliant to begin to explore what this might look like in the future for us – as individuals, as families, as churches, neighbourhoods and as a nation.
Key to understanding this transformation is, of course, Jesus and his resurrection. Sometimes in our church we have put our own human limits on the transformation we think He is capable of – believing that the miraculous and the extraordinary is something that is out of our reach. Let’s keep in mind that God’s transformation is contained in both the experiences of Peter and Paul – the slow emptying of self and the re-filling of God’s grace, and the sudden lightning bolt.
We can see this at work in our Diocese, here and now. Over the last two years or so we have seen a gradual awakening of discipleship through the programmes on offer such as Diploma of Anglican Studies, 3DM, EfM and Cursillo. Like ripples on a pond the effect of this is starting to spread. For example, we are now beginning to see vestries moving from groups who only met as a business unit, to groups who share prayer and deep fellowship, and actively disciple each other and their congregations. This is an example of the slow, encouraging work of our transforming God.
At the same time, the miraculous and the extraordinary lightning bolt moments are still with us. Youth Alpha camp, which followed Ministry Conference, experienced powerful moments of individual healing which demonstrates to us afresh that God does indeed transform suddenly, in our present. Our young people are helping to lead us forward here – please pray for them as they and their leaders with God’s grace begin to fan their own flames of faith, and praise God for the gift of healing.
Finally, Joy Cowley has recently released a new book of poetry and I commend this to you. In it, she writes on one of the Jewish creation myths, and I’d like to finish by sharing this poem with you. Know that each of you carries the spark of God inside you – keep fanning those flames and in union with Christ Jesus we will affect the transformation we and all of God’s world so badly needs.
The God Spark
There is a Jewish creation myth
that goes something like this:
In the beginning,
God created a huge clay vessel,
and God blew the fire of love
into this vessel, but God’s love
was so strong, that the vessel
shattered into a trillion pieces
and creation was born.
Each of us is a shard of clay
with a spark of God inside.
It is our duty on this earth
to fan that spark into a flame.
We can relate to that story
when we see the flames of love
that light up this world,
people who have strived
to live in loving kindness.
Then we think of the time
when the great fire of God,
Christ Jesus, joined us
to show us the way.
In the mystery of his love,
our own sparks are kindled
and we see the light of God
© Made for Love: Spiritual Reflection for Couples by Joy Cowley (Pleroma Press, 2015)